Forget A Bucket List, Make These 8 Resolutions for 2018
1. Experience the Great Migration
The Great Migration, considered by many as one of the most magnificent natural wonders on earth, sees 1.5 million wildebeest (and a fair few zebras and antelopes) migrate north across the grasslands of East Africa each year. After the weather turns cool and dry in Tanzania’s Serengeti, these herds make the 1,200-mile journey, chasing the rains towards the Maasai Mara in Kenya. The best time to experience the migration typically falls between late June and October. Wildlife lovers and photography enthusiasts will want to book a private guide or through a safari operator to better their chances of catching the sight.
2. Run the Paris Marathon
Explore the sites of the City of Love and complete your first (or perhaps fifth) marathon all in one go by taking part in the 2018 Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris. The race, which will be held on April 8, sees nearly 57,000 runners from 145 countries and is one of the biggest races in the world. Runners start at the Arc de Triomphe, head down the Place de la Concorde and pass iconic landmarks such as Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. There are even rumors that wine is handed out to runners by members of the crowd from the sideline, which certainly adds to the experience.
3. Explore Your Seventh Continent
As climate change continues to drastically alter the landscape of the earth’s southernmost continent, visiting Antarctica sooner rather than later is recommended. The extreme weather of this ice-covered landmass attracts all manner of wildlife, from penguins and elephant seals to orcas and blue whales. The unspoiled landscape is breathtaking, so Instagram-savvy travelers should make sure to bring a few extra battery packs. Cruises are the most common way to reach the continent, departing from Argentina’s Ushuaia between the months of November and March. But be warned, those with a weak stomach will want to factor in the crossing of the Drake Passage, which is notorious for being among the roughest seas in the world.
4. See the Northern Lights
The natural light show that is the aurora borealis (or northern lights) is an experience like no other. And though the lights can be viewed from a number of locations along the northern hemisphere, Norway’s Svalbard offers plenty of opportunities for visitors to catch a glimpse of the display. It’s also one of the rare places where you can see the lights during the daytime -- a result of the rugged archipelago being plunged into perpetual darkness from mid-November to January. Svalbard is located between mainland Norway and the North Pole. The easiest way for visitors to reach this northernmost inhabited area is to take one of the daily flights, which leave from Oslo and Tromso.
5. Drive Route 66
Among classic American road trips, the seminal Route 66 still reigns supreme. The more than 90-year-old historic journey runs through eight states, starting in Chicago and ending in Santa Monica. Though the road was technically decommissioned in 1985, you can still travel on much of the original roadway. There’s plenty to keep travelers entertained during the approximately 2,400-mile journey, ranging from the beautiful -- like the Santa Monica Pier -- to the downright bizarre -- the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, for example. Travelers hoping to get better acquainted with what inspired authors like Steinbeck and Kerouac will want to hit the road between the months of May and October and can expect the drive to take roughly two weeks.
6. Dive the Great Barrier Reef
Advanced and new divers alike should add Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to their list of must-visit sites. The world’s largest coral reef system, located off the coast of Queensland, is made up of nearly 2,900 individual reefs and attracts divers from around the globe. Its vast and vibrantly colored fish and sea life astound even seasoned divers, while there is a large infrastructure that caters to those looking for their first reef experience. It is also, unfortunately, disappearing at a rapid rate, in part due to the rise in ocean temperatures, making 2018 a great time to go. Though the reef is ideal for year-round diving, August-January are the best months to visit.
7. See Hogwarts
While the Wizarding World of Harry Potter offers a perfect dose of magic, true Potterheads should head to Alnwick Castle to experience Hogwarts firsthand. Located in windswept Northumberland -- England’s northernmost county -- Alnwick Castle was used in several early Hogwarts scenes, including Harry’s first Quidditch lesson with Madam Hooch. The castle has belonged to the Duke of Northumberland’s family, the Percys, for more than 700 years and officially reopens for the 2018 season on March 29. Tours, including the Alnwick on Location Film tour, are available daily, in addition to a number of activities for children including Broomstick Training. Afterward, head into the market town of Alnwick for lunch and wander around the charming, cobblestone streets.
8. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Whether you’re looking for a more demanding travel experience or want to give the Seven Summits challenge a try, Mount Kilimanjaro is an ideal adventure for those looking to break into the mountaineering scene. Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest mountain, situated 19,341 feet above sea level, and located inside the Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania. January-March and June-October are typically the best times to climb, and travelers should book with a tour guide. Tour operators will often help with everything from visas and figuring out which route best suits your fitness level to pre-climb fitness programs and essential kit lists. Climbs typically take between five and nine days, depending on how quickly trekkers acclimatize to the altitude.
Ashley Bess is an editor turned freelancer writer who describers herself as short, opinionated, recently repatriated, lover of gin and travel and with a head full of useless song lyrics and movie quotes.